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Vinny Toth in a short sleeve button up shirt, with his arms crossed as he leans on a stone sphere in the engineering quad

Vinny Toth

Story originally published on Aug 2021
I’m the Shriram Center building manager, which means my team and I keep things running in the building.

 We coordinate everything from the use of the facilities to maintenance, safety, shipping and receiving, etc.

Shriram is a 200,000-square-foot building with 26 wet labs, five theoretical labs, and as many as 350 entries daily in normal times. I try to approach every day with this question, “How can I improve researchers’ safety, comfort level and efficiency so they can do the science?” That’s worked out really well for me and, I think, for Shriram. I really am happy to be here to help.

With the onset of COVID-19, we had labs start doing related research almost right away — so we still had about 200 entries into the building each day. On top of that, we had two new principal investigators whose labs had to get set up. All of the access and safety process planning in the beginning was a big challenge. My team and I worked with every lab individually to create safety plans, discussing with each how many researchers could safely work in the space provided and ensuring they had what they needed to work in a safe environment.

It was our goal to make it as normal, safe and efficient as possible for researchers to come in and do science. Sometimes that meant figuring out how to get things done when no one was really onsite — like coordinating the setup of a new minus-80 freezer. These things were much more complex when we had to do them by phone or Zoom. We were always down to help out though.

It’s been super challenging but also really, really interesting. It’s never the same day to day — and there’s always a solution to be found to any problem that pops up.

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